Real Estate Agent Arrested For Money Laundering
McALLEN, Texas - Freddy Centeno, of Brownsville, has been arrested following the return of two-count indictment alleging money laundering for a convicted drug trafficker and making false statements to federal agents, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Centeno was taken into custody just a short time ago and he is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan.
The sealed indictment was returned July 23, 2013, and unsealed today upon Centeno’s arrest. The indictment alleges that Centeno, a licensed real estate agent, helped a narcotics trafficker launder drug profits through the purchase of real properties in Brownsville.
If convicted, Centeno faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
The arrest comes as a result of the ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Spike Strip. The narcotics trafficking and money-laundering investigation targeted the Armando Arambul drug trafficking organization which operated under the auspices of the Gulf Cartel in Matamoros, Mexico, and throughout the Southern District of Texas.
Arambul and others were responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine to Houston and other major U.S. cities and remitted millions of dollars to the Gulf Cartel. Arambul was convicted and is set for sentencing Oct. 21, 2013, at which time he faces up to life in prison.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Cameron County District Attorney’s Office-Narcotics Investigation Division and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Jesse Salazar is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.